Tuesday, 20 February 2018


7 strange vehicles to get you from A to B
By Nick Lavars,
New Atlas, 19 February 2018.

The rise of the internet and sites like Kickstarter has facilitated a spread of ideas like never before - some fun, some world-changing and a whole lot that can only be described as weird. The realm of transport is a particularly good place to see oddball creations in action, and while the seven presented here might not be the most effective in getting you where you need to go, they would certainly turn some heads along the way.

1. Blizwheel ESkates

Credit: Blizwheel/Facebook

Why bother with regular old roller skates when you can effortlessly glide along on electric versions? Better yet, a pair that can folded flat so you can stow them away in a drawer when you get to the office? From the outside, the Blizwheel ESkates look like a set of dinner plates strapped to your ankles, but on the inside are some nifty mechanics, including a motorized wheel with solid rubber treads, a fold-out platform for your feet and another set of stability wheels to even it all out.

With a top speed of 15 mph (24 km/h) and a range of 15 miles (24 km) per charge, these electric roller skates can be controlled via a finger-worn device that triggers acceleration as the user bends the digit and deceleration when they straighten it out. At US$569 a pop, they fell short of their Kickstarter goal, but the success of rivals like the RocketSkates tells us we haven't seen the last of this kind of design.

2. A single, spinning ball

Credit: Olaf Winkler/YouTube

The more you reduce the amount of wheels on a scooter, the more balancing skill you ask of your rider. To offset this, creators have come up with various self-balancing mechanisms to prevent meetings with the pavement, but none quite like the handiwork of German electrical engineer Olaf Winkler.

His Üo scooter does away with wheels entirely in favor of a single rubber ball, which keeps the rider on the move thanks to a set of motorized omni wheels that send it spinning in the desired direction. Acceleration, braking and turns can initiated by leaning, and a small joystick on top of a telescoping stick can be used to pivot. Like the Blizwheel ESkates, the Üo failed to meet its funding goal on Kickstarter, although this approach is one we're not all that confident of seeing again.

3. Extreme parenting

Credit: Quinny

Back in 2012, pro skateboarder Tony Hawk caused quite a stir by taking his then four-year-old, helmet-less daughter for a spin around his backyard bowl. It is unclear whether the team at Quinny drew inspiration from The Birdman's antics, but they probably weren't among his critics, having since launched a stroller that doubles as a skateboard to bring some extra adrenaline to your afternoon amble.

During its development, the team received its fair share of feedback from potential customers about the safety of the Longboardstroller. They responded with "multiple safety innovations," including a padded bumper bar and a handbrake. That might still not be enough for some, but those interested in giving it a whirl can order a Longboardstroller through Quinny's website for US$745 (European customers only).

4. Scooters go tubular

Credit: Video screenshot Kickstarter

Folding electric scooters have proven particularly fertile ground for innovative ideas, and the GoTube is certainly one of the smoother solutions we've come across. It can have you zipping across campus at up to 10 mph (16 km/h) one minute, and then strolling between classes with what looks like a tube of architectural blueprints the next.

With a range of 7.5 mi (12 km) and an ability to tackle inclines of 10 degrees, the GoTube obliterated its Kickstarter goal after launching in December 2016, although a cursory glance at the comments there suggests that there is quite a bit of discontent among backers. So buyer beware.

5. Semi-prone cycling


The so-called Bird of Prey bike takes a form typically limited to one-off rides for speed record attempts and tries to make it more appealing to the mainstream cyclist. Its creators bill a few advantages over the traditional upright cycling position, including better aerodynamics, better handling and even better safety.

"On a standard bicycle if you put on the brakes in a panic stop you will fly over the handle bars face first," Aldrige told us when it launched back in 2015. "In a panic stop on a Bird of Prey Bicycle it is impossible to go over the handle bars... The rider's body mass is low, which is the reason it is impossible."

If you're convinced and these features are ticking your boxes, the Bird of Prey can be ordered through the website for the rather serious sum of US$4,800.

6. Step onto this laptop-sized panel and glide away

Credit: Cocoa Motors/YouTube

The WalkCar from Japan's Cocoa Motors is basically a small platform that you stand on and shift your weight to start moving along, thanks to four tiny wheels underneath, an electric motor and battery. Each charge is claimed to provide an hour of use, and offers a top speed of 16 km (10 mph).

When announced in 2015, the WalkCar seemed like another audacious transport concept that would never see the commercial light of day. But in 2016 Cocoa Motors opened up preorders for the vehicle. As it stands, the preorder button is still the closest thing you'll find to a purchase option, but if you've got some patience and US$1,280 to spare, then you can take your place in the line.

7. A brush with danger?

Credit: Solowheel Global/YouTube

Solowheel first arrived on the scene in 2011 with an electric unicycle that uses a self-balancing gyro system to keep riders upright. Fast-forward to 2018 and the company is turning to a decidedly low-tech solution for wonky first-timers, deploying large brushes on either side of the wheel exactly where you might find training wheels on a bicycle.

These vertical bristled matrices - ok, brushes - are intended to make hopping aboard a Solowheel less intimidating. Beyond adding to the vehicle's stability, the brushes also turn riders into inadvertent street sweepers, and any effort to clean up city sidewalks deserves a high-five from us. Currently on Kickstarter, Solowheel owners can add a stabilizing brush to their setup for an early pledge of US$69, with shipping slated for May 2018.

More images at the gallery.

Top image: Bird of Prey 2015 Bicycle. Credit: Bird of Prey Bicycle.

[Source: New Atlas.]

Monday, 19 February 2018


10 Most Expensive And Delectable Desserts
By Jonathan H. Kantor,
Listverse, 19 February 2018.

Dessert is either the reason you ate your meal in the first place or an afterthought when you convince yourself that you have just enough room left for a fun and tasty indulgence. Desserts rarely cost what we pay for our meals and almost never require a bank loan to get. That hasn’t kept some of the world’s more creative patissiers from setting the bar a little higher.

Whether it’s to raise money for a good cause or simply for promotional purposes, some restaurants and their chefs have gone out of their way to create delicious but unaffordable dishes. Were you so inclined and had the means to do so, you could partake in any of these 10 most expensive desserts from around the world.

10. La Madeline au Truffle - US$250

Photo credit:

Chocolate truffles aren’t normally cheap, but there are some you can pick up for a lot less than La Madeline au Truffle from Knipschildt Chocolatier in Norwalk, Connecticut. A single truffle will cost US$250, or you could go ahead and splurge for 0.45 kilograms (1 lb) at a cost of US$2,600.

The company describes the truffle like this: “La Madeline au Truffe starts with a decadent 70 percent Valrhona dark chocolate, heavy cream, sugar, truffle oil, and vanilla as the base for the rich decadent ganache.”[1]

The dessert begins with a rare French Perigord truffle, which is surrounded by a rich ganache. It looks and sounds delicious, but much of the experience in eating one comes from the packaging.

They have created an ornate golden box for each truffle, but you can’t just walk in and purchase one. These are specially made to order, so you need to call ahead if you want to drop a car payment on a single truffle.

9. Beyond Gourmet Jelly Beans - US$500

Photo credit:

David’s “Beyond Gourmet” Jelly Beans were created by David Klein, the man behind Jelly Belly Jelly Beans. But unlike his run-of-the-mill candies that are seen all over the place, these are a bit different.

The gourmet variety isn’t encumbered with any of those pesky artificial flavors or colors - they are all natural! Granted, that’s not enough to up the price tag to US$500 a jar. There’s something else going on here. Although the dozen flavors are all meant to be savored when eaten, it’s the jar that really gets you on the price.

The original launch of the candies had each bean coated in 24-karat gold leaf inside a beautifully ornate crystal jar.[2] Fortunately, purchasing these candies has become somewhat more accessible to those of us who don’t want to drop US$500 on the special packaging. It is possible to purchase a small sampler package without all that fancy gold or crystal nonsense...and it’s only US$16!

8. Golden Opulence Sundae - US$1,000

On the 50th anniversary of Serendipity 3, a restaurant in New York City, the owner wanted to do something special. So they created the Golden Opulence Sundae. Unlike almost any sundae you would find elsewhere, this one requires 48 hours notice before ordering and costs a whopping US$1,000, making it the Guinness Book of World Records’ most expensive sundae when it debuted. Despite the high price tag, the restaurant sells one per month, and by all accounts, it’s delicious!

The 48-hour notice is required so they can order the various ingredients from different locations around the world. The ingredients consist of chocolate truffles and three scoops of Tahitian vanilla bean ice cream covered in 23-karat edible gold leaf. It even comes with some Grand Passion Caviar. The whole thing is topped off with gilded sugar and flakes of gold.

When you’re done eating, you even get to keep the US$350 Baccarat Harcourt crystal goblet in which it was served.[3]

7. The Golden Phoenix Cupcake - US$1,000

If ice cream isn’t your thing and you still have US$1,000 you want to transfer into something edible, the Golden Phoenix Cupcake may be for you! This salute to gold in the form of a cupcake can only be found in a lovely little bakery called Bloomsbury’s in the Dubai Mall.[4]

The dessert consists of strawberries dipped in gold, Italian chocolate, and Ugandan vanilla beans. The icing that frosts the cupcakes is covered in edible gold dust, and when it’s all said and done, the whole thing is dusted in gold.

The Golden Phoenix Cupcake is even served with a golden spoon. This is important because edible gold doesn’t taste like anything, so eating this dessert with a golden spoon makes it a unique and satisfying experience.

Sadly, they don’t let you keep the spoon. But given the amount of gold eaten with this cupcake (thanks to the 23-karat edible gold sheets enveloping it), you probably aren’t missing too much.

6. Krispy Kreme’s Luxe Doughnut - US$1,685

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Krispy Kreme is well-known for being able to churn out thousands of doughnuts every day in their stores, but that doesn’t mean they can’t be fancy when they want to! Back in 2014, Krispy Kreme debuted what it called the “most expensive” doughnut in the world. It’s plain to see that this treat doesn’t come cheap - it is adorned with 24-karat gold leaf among other things.

The doughnut is also decorated with a gilded white chocolate lotus with a few edible diamonds and stuffed with Dom Perignon champagne jelly. According to Maxim, the doughnut was served with “a cocktail featuring raspberry and passion fruit syrup, Courvoisier Cognac, and more Dom Perignon 2002.”[5]

Unfortunately, these aren’t sitting in the display case of your local Krispy Kreme seeing as it was only created once. The company made the fashionably fancy doughnut in an effort to raise money for The Children’s Trust.

5. Frrrozen Haute Chocolate Ice Cream Sundae - US$25,000

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The Golden Opulence Sundae didn’t hold the top spot in the Guinness Book of World Records for long thanks to the delectable yet wholly unaffordable creation from the folks at Serendipity 3, who simply had to best themselves. The cost of the Frrrozen Haute Chocolate Ice Cream Sundae will set you back a new car: US$25,000.

The dessert is far more than just simple ice cream - 5 grams (0.2 oz) of 23-karat edible gold are mixed into the dish. To top it all off, they don’t bother with the standard maraschino cherry and instead opt for La Madeline au Truffle, which we already know goes for US$250 on its own.

The dish is served in a goblet with a gold crown, an 18-karat gold bracelet with 1 carat of white diamonds, and a golden spoon. These beauties aren’t exactly on the menu and have to be ordered in advance.[6]

The truffle is brought in from France, while the cocoas are from multiple places around the world. The gold is flown in from Switzerland, so there is some time needed to get it all put together. But for someone willing to shell out US$25,000 for dessert, it may be prudent to wait for the right ingredients.

4. The Lindeth Howe Country House Hotel Chocolate Pudding - US$34,000

Photo credit:

Most people who want pudding will get a six-pack at their local grocery store and maybe put US$0.50 toward one dessert. Then there are those whose expense accounts have gone the way of sanity. They put forth US$35,000 toward the most expensive pudding in the world.

It was created by chef Marc Guibert of the Lindeth Howe Country House Hotel in England for the sole purpose of being the most expensive chocolate pudding. The dessert’s design aims to replicate a Faberge egg, which it does thanks to a few additions to the normal recipe.

Besides some of the most delicious chocolates, caviar, and edible gold the chef could find, the dessert also comes with a 2-carat diamond. (You probably wouldn’t want to eat that.)

The edible bits consist of gold and champagne caviar, four different flavored Belgian chocolates, and, of course, a covering of edible gold leaf. Accompanying the pudding is a bottle of Chateau d’Yquem, which normally costs around US$700 on its own. The pudding is made to order and requires three week’s notice (and probably something of a down payment).[7]

3. The Absurdity Sundae - US$60,000

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The “World’s More Expensive Most Expensive Ice Cream Sundae” doesn’t by itself cost as much as the previous sundae on this list, but it comes with a bit of a twist. The people behind Three Twins Ice Cream make a banana split, which typically costs US$3,333.33. It consists of bananas and syrups made from rare wines, and it is served with a special ice cream spoon made in the 1850s. They will even get a cellist to play for you while you eat if you give them a day’s notice.

The reason that this Absurdity Sundae is No. 3 on our list has to do with the special arrangements made if you want to enjoy it “properly.” For just US$60,000, they will fly you out to Mount Kilimanjaro where the company’s founder will hand-churn ice cream using glacial ice harvested from the mountain’s summit.

Of course, your airfare to Tanzania will be first class and you will be put up in five-star accommodations. You can even kick in an additional US$25,000 if you want to bring a friend with you.[8]

2. Diamond Fruitcake - US$1.72 Million

Photo credit:

Every Christmas, it seems that you can’t walk into a store without seeing a fruitcake. These desserts, which few people seem to truly enjoy, are ubiquitous during the holiday season. But they don’t often cost more than a few bucks.

Then there’s the special cake created for Takashimaya Department Store in Tokyo. This fruitcake is valued at a measly US$1.72 million thanks to the 223 individual diamonds studding the cake. The total weight of the diamonds is 170 carats, making this the most expensive fruitcake in the world...and it probably still doesn’t taste all that good when you bite into it.[9]

The Diamond Fruitcake took six months to design and an entire month to create. The cake is edible, but the chef has suggested that the diamonds aren’t for consumption. Despite the chef’s warning, it doesn’t look like anyone will be taking a bite because the cake was created as an art piece for the store’s promotion. Still, who wouldn’t want to try a cake that costs as much as your average mansion?

1. Strawberries Arnaud - US$9.85 Million

Photo credit:

If you’ve ever weighed the decision to purchase a yacht or a plate of strawberries and went with the latter, you only have to drop a measly US$9.85 million at Arnaud’s Restaurant in New Orleans for a tasty treat! The French Creole restaurant has been serving strawberries for years. Fortunately, you can pick up their regular strawberry dessert for around US$9. But for Valentine’s Day 2016, Arnaud’s decided to try something special.

Although the dish comes with locally grown strawberries, some additional ingredients account for the hefty price tag. Various expensive liquors and champagnes are added for flavoring along with a scoop of vanilla ice cream, whipped cream, and 24-karat gold flakes atop the dessert.

Still not satisfied with the price tag? Thrown in at the base of the plate in an ornate box is a 10.06-carat royal blue diamond engagement ring from MS Rau Antiques in the French Quarter.[10]

Top image: Strawberries Arnaud. Credit: Arnaud's & the French 75 Bar/Facebook.

[Source: Listverse. Top image added.]

Sunday, 18 February 2018


Eight flying taxis that are so crazy, they just might work
By Nick Lavars,
New Atlas, 12 February 2018.

Flying taxis still seem very much like something pulled right out of science fiction, but when transport heavyweights like Boeing, Airbus and Uber start pumping millions of dollars into their development, it might be time to take all of this a bit more seriously.

Beyond the cool factor of personal flight, electric flying taxis would have a profound impact when it comes to society, the economy and the environment. By reshaping how people move around cities they have the potential to disrupt conventional transport systems like highways, trains and buses, put a dent in pollution around urban centers and make for much faster commutes, therefore making society more efficient and productive as a whole.

The examples we look at here all have their own unique designs, and are at different points in their development, but they all promise to essentially do the same thing, which is move passengers through the air from point A to point B at a push of the button. Thanks to electric propulsion and autonomous navigation systems, they would have no operating emissions and no pilot and would generate minimal noise.

Credit: Uber/YouTube

If these kinds of aircraft were to become commonplace, it would be a fundamental shift in how cities function. Although plenty of skepticism still abounds, somebody who needs no convincing of either their potential or impending arrival is Vikas Prakash, a professor of mechanical and aerospace engineering at Case Western Reserve University.

"I don't have any doubt," he says. "In a few years, you will be able to call an air taxi from Uber or someone else to travel maybe 100 miles in a vehicle with two other people. I'm very excited about this."

Prakash recently received a US$1.3 million grant from NASA to develop advanced batteries capable of powering such electric air vehicles. We put a few questions to him about how, when and why we might see these things in action.

Why do you think we are on the precipice of a flying taxi revolution?

"Driven by concerns about climate change, governments and companies worldwide are making plans for a post-oil era. While there have been efforts to limit carbon emissions in the aviation industry by using alternative fuels, as with the car industry, electrical propulsion seems to be the way forward for air travel.

"However, electric air-vehicles have more challenges than their land-based counterparts in terms of their onboard space and weight limits, impacting performance. Today's batteries pack much less energy per unit weight and volume when compared to jet fuel. Accordingly, the required battery packs are simply too heavy to maintain efficient flight capabilities. These energy limitations become especially acute in smaller crafts.

"State-of-the-art electric motors partly compensate this disadvantage by being more efficient in converting energy into power, and major industry players, research organizations and entrepreneurs are working on several possible paths to make commercial electric flying a reality."

Can you explain some of the recent technological advances that have made flying taxis viable?

Credit: Joby Aviation/Facebook

"For air-taxis to serve as on-demand urban transit, they need to be safe, quiet, clean, and efficient. All electric air vehicles, which utilize battery propulsion over jet propulsion, are expected to have zero operational emissions, and be quiet enough to operate in cities without disturbing the neighbors. At flying altitude, noise from advanced electric vehicles is expected to be barely audible.

"Even during take-off and landing, the noise will be comparable to existing background noise. We also believe, successful air taxi design will not use the rotary-wing design of today's helicopters. Instead, it will be the vertical take-off and landing capabilities (VTOL) combined with distributed energy propulsion (DEP) that will make it possible for us to fly an air taxi from building to building.

"While rotary wing helicopters are the closest current-day proxy for the VTOLs, they are far too noisy, energy inefficient, and pollute too much to be economically viable for large-scale operations. Rather, we envision instead many smaller, electric motors distributed along the fuselage, as motor efficiency in this case does not benefit from a size increase, unlike todays large jet engines, positioned under the wings.

"Further, significant efficiency improvements are possible with DEP, since it enables fixed-wing VTOL aircraft to avoid the fundamental limitations of helicopter edgewise rotor flight during cruise, and provides lift with far greater efficiency than rotors. Also, these VTOL designs will also be markedly safer since VTOLs, unlike helicopters, do not need to be dependent on any single part to stay airborne and will ultimately use autonomy technology to significantly reduce operator error."

And which technological hurdles still stand in the way?

"Some of the biggest challenges in establishing a viable air-taxi industry are related to: (1) battery technology, including their energy and power densities, charge rate, and cycle life; (2) Successful development and FAA certification of VTOL and distributed energy propulsion (DEP) technology which is directly related to vehicle efficiency; (3) vehicle performance and reliability in varied weather conditions; (4) vehicle cost and affordability; (5) safety related to vehicle partial-autonomy navigating congested skies; (6) aircraft noise and air pollution, especially over populated areas; (7) landing and takeoff infrastructure including landing pads at key city locations to deploy a VTOL fleet."

What will the range of the first flying taxis be?

"An air taxi could be defined as a flying vehicle with a range of 50-120 miles (80 to 193 km), carrying two to four passengers and cruising at an altitude of 3,000 to 5,000 ft (914 to 1,524 m). In the near term, based on the current battery technology, the most-common commute might be a 50-mile (80-km) round trip with two short vertical takeoffs and a 30-minute energy reserve on a single battery charge."

How soon do you think we might see flying taxis in action?

Credit: Uber/YouTube

"Urban airspace is open for business today, and with air-traffic control (ATC) systems exactly as they are, a VTOL service could be launched and even scaled to possibly hundreds of vehicles. However, a successful, optimized on-demand urban VTOL operation will necessitate a significantly higher frequency and airspace density of vehicles operating over metropolitan areas simultaneously.

The current air traffic control will have to evolve and new ATC systems will be needed to handle these extra crafts, especially if a city were to add multiple hubs and potentially hundreds of air taxis. It will be the government policy in the end that will dictate when we will see flying taxi fleets."

The contenders

The list of air taxi concepts presented here is by no means exhaustive, with plenty of projects from startups and aviation incumbents that promise to shake up the way folks move through urban centers. But these particular examples have caught our attention over the past couple of years for different reasons, be it through manned test flights, powerful partnerships or huge investments from notable parties.

1. UberAir

Credit: Uber/YouTube

Uber first revealed plans for its flying taxi service in a 97-page white paper in 2016. It plans to use sets of small electric rotors to power aircraft with two or four seats. These would take off vertically but then convert to some sort of horizontal flight cruise mode with tilting wings or rotors, saving on energy in the process as they travel along fixed routes between "Skyports."

In November last year, Uber formed an agreement with NASA to develop an unmanned traffic management system to deal with all the expected air traffic. It also announced plans to start testing flying taxis in Dubai and Dallas in 2020, and has recently added Los Angeles to the list. It is referring to the service as UberAir for now.

2. Airbus Vahana


Airbus launched its Vahana project around two years ago, and is making the sort of progress you might expect from some of aviation's more experienced heads. A full-scale version of the electric, autonomous VTOL aircraft completed its first ever test flight earlier in February, lifting into the air for 53 seconds and reaching an altitude of five meters (16 ft). With its first vertical takeoff and landing proving a success, the team is now planning tests where it transitions from vertical to horizontal flight.

3. Workhorse Surefly

Credit: Workhorse

We first caught wind of the Workhorse Surefly air taxi during the Paris Air Show last June, and last month it received an Experimental Airworthiness Certificate from the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) to kick off test flights last month at CES. Workhorse also has a partnership with global shipping giant UPS, and the engines used in the Surefly are the same ones used in BMW's i3 and C600 super scooter. It hopes to receive full FAA approval in late 2019.

4. Volocopter

Credit: Volocopter GmbH/Facebook

Of all the flying taxi concepts doing the rounds, the 18-rotor electric Volocopter is the one that seems to garner the most attention. In its current iteration, it can fly for 30 minutes at a time and hit a top speed of 100 km/h (62 mph). Since emerging as a pretty out-there project back in 2013, it has completed manned test flights in Germany, unmanned flights over Dubai and, last month at CES in Las Vegas, a short onstage test flight in front of a live audience. That marked its first flight in the US, and the city of Dubai is trialing it over the next five years as part of a service called the Autonomous Air Taxi.

5. Autonomous Passenger Drone


Just announced in September, the Autonomous Passenger Drone is built form carbon fiber composites and uses 16 electric rotors to get airborne. It can be flown manually with a joystick if need be and features two seats, one behind the other. Its makers released videos accompanying the announcement that show the craft already completing manned test flights. So, although it certainly wasn't the first flying taxi on the scene, it is certainly seems further along in its development than some competitors.

6. Ehang 184

Credit: Ehang

Ehang burst onto the scene at CES in 2016 with a prototype of its 184 flying taxi, but has been relatively quiet since then. Like the Workhorse Surefly, it has received an Experimental Airworthiness Certificate from the FAA, but has done little to update us on its progress in the meantime.

It broke its silence this month by revealing footage showing people riding aboard the Ehang 184 for the first time. These test flights purport to show the aircraft being put through its paces in a force seven typhoon, navigating heavy fog, climbing to an altitude of 300 m (1,000 ft) and completing a long-range test flight of 8.8 km (5.5 mi). Like the Volocopter, the Ehang 184 is set to be trialed in Dubai over the coming years.

7. Joby

Credit: Joby Aviation/Facebook

Joby Aviation's multirotor convertible aircraft might be the most eye-catching of the concepts outlined here, simply because it's the biggest departure from the conventional rotary-wing helicopter. The custom-designed tilt system sees the rotors spin horizontally during takeoff and landing, and then turn 90 degrees for low-energy forward flight just like a fixed-wing aircraft.

We have paid a visit to Joby Aviation's headquarters and left with the firm belief that this thing is absolutely happening. Intel and Toyota are also convinced, who along with other investors just handed the company US$100 million to continue development of the aircraft.

8. Lilium

Credit: Lilium

Lilium Aviation completed its first unmanned test flights of a two-seater version of its electric VTOL jet in early 2017, and promptly turned its attention to a larger five-seat production version. It says this will have a massive range of over 300 km (186 mi) and a top speed of 300 km/h (186 mph). In September last year, it raised US$90 million in fresh funding to forge ahead with its work, and is targeting 2019 for its first manned flights.

More images at the gallery.

Top image: Workhorse Surefly air taxi. Credit: Workhorse.

[Source: New Atlas.]


10 Incredibly Unique Children From Around The World
By Tarni Kirkpatrick,
Listverse, 17 February 2018.

Childhood should be a time of play and whimsy when everything is easy and parents take care of the hard stuff. But some children are faced with extraordinary challenges that would probably defeat their older counterparts. Others possess unusual characteristics and abilities that we wouldn’t expect to see in a child.

Each of these 10 unique children has given us an incredible story to tell. Whether working to overcome unusual medical problems or learning to master their amazing abilities, these kids are an inspiration to us all.

10. Bayezid Hossain: Real-Life Benjamin Button

Photo credit:

Bayezid Hossain was born in Magura in 2012 with progeria, an extremely rare condition. Progeria is known for its characteristic aging of the body at up to eight times the normal rate. As a result, six-year-old Bayezid lives inside the body of a 70-year-old person.

His hollow eyes and sagging skin scare other children, and his aching joints and weakened body will not allow him to physically participate in school activities. Due to his increased brain activity, however, he has above-average intelligence for his age. This constantly impresses his mother and teachers.

It is predicted that Bayezid will not live past his teenage years because progeria patients are known to die of heart attacks around an average age of 13. While it breaks his mother’s heart that she will not have her son for as many years as she had expected, she is constantly amazed by his intelligence and determination to enjoy life like a normal child.[1]

Bonus Fact: Progeria is the condition which inspired F. Scott Fitzgerald to write his short story, “The Curious Case of Benjamin Button,” which has also been made into a movie starring Brad Pitt. In the story, the protagonist is born as an old man and ages backward.

9. Shin Hyomyung: ‘Peter Pan of Korea’

Photo credit:

On the other side of the spectrum is Shin Hyomyung of South Korea. Hyomyung was born in 1989 and still has the characteristics of a young teenage boy, including chubby cheeks and a high-pitched voice. He has yet to go through puberty due to a rare condition called “Highlander syndrome,” which causes the body to age extremely slowly.

A documentary that aired in South Korea showed his growth to be normal until his teenage years. Then his aging seemed to stop. Now he needs a proof-of-age card to do things that any average 29-year-old would do with ease. Despite his condition, his health is recorded to be almost perfect for his age. Therefore, his condition is not holding him back in any aspect other than his dating profile.

The condition hasn’t stopped Hyomyung from fully experiencing life. He has been photographed at clubs and bars dancing with people and even buying alcohol from the local supermarket. The locals nicknamed him the “Peter Pan of Korea,” and he is surrounded by loving friends and family.[2]

8. Shiloh Pepin: Real-Life Mermaid

Photo credit:

Shiloh Pepin was born with “mermaid syndrome,” medically known as sirenomelia. Infants with this condition are born with their legs fused together. For Shiloh, doctors gave their heartbreaking prediction that she would not survive longer than a few days after her birth in 1999.

Unlike most children born with mermaid syndrome, Shiloh’s legs could not be separated due to the way her major arteries were running through her legs. The condition meant that Shiloh had no uterus, bladder, or large intestine and was only graced with one partially working kidney.

Despite the circumstances, Shiloh continued to prove doctors wrong as she overcame her difficulties. In 2009, she celebrated her 10th birthday. Previously, she had undergone two kidney transplants and a number of other operations to prolong her life. She proved to the world that she was born a true fighter.[3]

She attended school, appeared on several talk shows, including The Oprah Winfrey Show, and was an inspiration to children all over the world. Unfortunately, her fight came to an untimely end at age 10 after a cold quickly turned into pneumonia. Her body was unable to fight it off.

Shiloh Pepin’s story will continue to inspire children with disabilities all over the world. She was the girl who never took no for an answer, and it showed in her relationships at school and in her personality.

7. Tessa Evans

Photo credit: BBC

Tessa Evans from Maghera was born with congenital arhinia. This is an extremely rare condition in which the infant has no sense of smell and no sinus cavities. Her parents agreed to let her be the first patient to undergo a new procedure to help her.

A 3-D printer built an implant which could be placed under the skin to give Tessa the appearance of a nose. Once she has stopped growing, a tattoo artist will be able to impress natural contours and nostrils into the skin which will give Tessa the appearance of a “normal” adult.

The initial surgery was a success. The implant has given her a small nasal bump which has raised the area between her eyes. Doctors plan to repeat this surgery every two years until they are satisfied that her face is no longer growing and developing.

At birth, Tessa had to be tube-fed due to a tracheostomy tube in her neck to help her breathe. Aside from the first few months when she had to learn to breathe through her mouth, doctors say that there shouldn’t be any long-term internal dangers.[4]

However, her parents are concerned about the loss of natural instincts that come with a sense of smell, including the ability to detect rotting food, poison, and burning. Tessa will have to learn to rely on her other senses, such as touch and hearing, to make up for this loss.

6. Pan Xianhang: Chinese ‘Fish Boy’

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A boy was nicknamed the Chinese “Fish Boy” after he was born with a skin condition which left him covered from head to toe in scales. Unfortunately, it is an incurable condition which limits his quality of life due to constant itchiness and limited mobility.

He gets relief from cold water and several medicinal creams recommended by doctors. The scales were flat when Pan was born. Over time, they developed into thick scales which prevented him from sweating. Therefore, they affect his body’s ability to cool down.

Known as ichthyosis, this rare skin disease is inherited by a child when both parents pass on the same gene that causes the disorder. Over 16,000 children are born with this condition each year.[5]

Unfortunately for Pan, it is currently incurable despite the desperate efforts of doctors who have reviewed his case. His nickname is derived from the Greek translation of ichthy, which is a root word for “fish.” Hopefully for Pan’s sake, a cure will be found which will enable him to live a life without pain and illness.

5. Kristina Pimenova: The World’s Most Beautiful Girl

Photo credit: The Independent

Kristina Pimenova has been modeling since she was three years old. By age nine, she had been internationally dubbed the “most beautiful girl in the world.” Born in Russia, she began her modeling career as a toddler who was featured in campaigns for elite brands like Dolce & Gabbana and Roberto Cavalli.

Her Facebook page, managed by her mother, now has over two million likes. However, critics have begun questioning the girl’s fame due to the number of inappropriate and sometimes pedophilic comments left on her photos.

Kristina got into the industry through her mother, Glikeriya Shirokova, a former model who wanted her only daughter to follow in her footsteps and have the life she had. Glikeriya got the idea from taking her baby daughter to shoots where people would tell Glikeriya how beautiful Kristina was and that Glikeriya should get Kristina into modeling.[6]

From this was born the world’s most beautiful girl. While many children are in the modeling industry at young ages, Kristina stands out because she is modeling at the level of an adult at only 12 years old.

4. Richard Sandrak: Little Hercules (AKA The World’s Strongest Boy)

In 1992, Richard Sandrak was born in a small town in Ukraine. Two years later, he migrated with his parents to Pennsylvania in search of a better life. Both his parents trained with weights, and his dad was into martial arts.

At age three, Richard began training with small weights to slowly strengthen his body. This all seems good and normal. However, in 1999, the family moved to California and the media recognized Richard, then seven, as “The World’s Strongest Boy.”

From there, he only got stronger as he continued to build his eight-pack abdomen and his abnormally muscled body. He headlined in many famous bodybuilding shows such as Mr. USA, The Emerald Cup, Mr. Olympia, and the Arnold Classic.

Critics were worried about the way in which Richard had become a young bodybuilder. Were steroids or child abuse involved? Richard never attended a normal school, and his father had been imprisoned for domestic abuse toward his mother. Reportedly, Richard had only 1 percent body fat, which is a particular health risk for a child who is still growing.[7]

However, Richard has always denied that his parents played any forceful part in his training and claims to have simply fallen in love with it when he started. In 2005, he released a video program to inspire other kids to be fit and healthy.

3. Ben Underwood: Echolocation

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Bats are blind, but do you know how they manage to get around and catch food without constantly flying into things? How they move with such grace without any vision at all? They are born with the instincts to use a system known as echolocation. They make noise and wait for it to reverberate off the objects around them so they know where such objects are.

This brings us to Ben Underwood, who was just three years old when he was diagnosed with retinal cancer. To prevent the cancer from spreading to the rest of his body, both of his eyes were removed and replaced with prosthetics. This rendered him completely blind.

Ben grew up in California with his family and lived an almost completely normal life. He had taught himself to use echolocation by creating a sharp clicking sound with his tongue. The sound echoed off nearby objects.

Due to his trained ears and his insane ability to accurately determine where things were around him, he successfully lived a blind life with no guide dog and no cane. Even more incredible, he could play basketball, skateboard, and even ride a bike home from school.[8]

Unfortunately, Ben died in 2009 from the same type of cancer that had taken his eyesight. When the cancer came back, it spread to his spinal cord and brain. Ben was just 16 years old when he passed away.

2. Johncris Carl Quirante: 300 Teeth

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In Cebu, Johncris Carl Quirante was born with a rare condition known as multiple hyperdontia which gives him more teeth than the average person. As his family was unable to afford a dentist until he was in the fourth grade, his mother didn’t know about his condition.

However, she did notice extra teeth pushing through his gums. So she saved the money for a trip to the dentist. There, they discovered that Johncris had around 300 teeth. That is almost 10 times the number of teeth in an average adult mouth!

Since the discovery, Johncris has been undergoing operations to have the extra teeth removed from his mouth. Otherwise, they could cause severe gum disease and eating discomfort as he gets older. It will take eight operations to remove all his extra teeth. These procedures will be spread over a few years to allow the gums to properly heal between each group of extractions.[9]

So far, he has not had any setbacks associated with his condition. He is excelling at school and on the playground. He remains happy and positive despite his upcoming operations. Fortunately, his condition was caught before it affected his quality of life.

1. Charlotte Garside: The World’s Smallest Child

When Charlotte Garside was born to parents Scott Garside and Emma Newman, Charlotte weighed a mere 500 grams (18 oz) and was only 25 centimeters (10 in) long. At the time, her condition was so unusual that it didn’t have a name and was described as a rare kind of dwarfism.

Due to Charlotte’s size, she wasn’t expected to live past her first birthday. Now almost six years old, she still fights on. Her dedicated parents, who have three other children, were reduced to dressing her in dolls’ clothing after trying the smallest baby clothes and finding they still didn’t fit. Charlotte’s older sisters love to play dress-up with her.

The doctors’ prediction filled her parents with fear. However, with their love and care, Charlotte has thrived and is going to attend school. Unfortunately, she is mentally behind other children her age due to her condition. But it seems as though nothing will get in this girl’s way. She is now 70 centimeters (2’4″) in height and fits into clothes made for newborns.[10]

While her parents will always worry about her future, they aspire to give her the best life possible. She has a stunning personality, and they just hope that everyone else will be able to see past her size and into her big heart.

Top image: Charlotte Garside, the world’s smallest child. Credit: Charlotte Garside: Tiniest Girl In The World/Facebook.

[Source: Listverse. Top image added.]